Tips for Teaching ESL Online

Instructor: Jacob Compton

Jacob has taught ESL in three Asian countries and has a master's degree in education.

In this lesson you will learn some helpful tips and strategies for teaching English as a second language (ESL) online. This lesson covers tips on teaching students how to speak, write, read and listen. Continue reading to learn more.

Tips for Teaching ESL Online

When teaching English as a second language (ESL), there are several aspects that you need to cover with your students, including speaking, writing, reading, and listening. Another component of teaching online is having assignments to grade. Most of your grading can come from Internet forums or virtual discussion pages, and you can easily post tests and quizzes online too. Let's look in more depth at some strategies for teaching online ESL students.

Speaking Instruction

One question that might be on your mind and those of your students is 'What about speaking?' Recordings help a lot. There are different ways to record a person's voice on the Internet, and having them record their own voice is relatively easy. Because computers differ, allow for several different recording formats in case a student's computer does not support the style of recording that you prefer.

A big problem with speaking is that a lot of speaking comes from listening and repeating. So how do you get your students to repeat after you in an online classroom where instruction may not be in real time?

For instance, if you're not using Skype, a webinar, or something similar, here is an effective strategy to use. First make three recordings of what you want your students to repeat. For the first recording, say the word or phrase slowly. For the second recording, enunciate slowly, drawing out each part of what you're saying down to the syllables or different parts of the words. To visually reinforce your instruction, be sure to write out the sounds for your recording and display the text next to the recording. For the third recording, say the word or phrase at a normal speed. As mentioned, it is helpful to display the phrase or word next to each recording.

If you want to check on students' progress, have them record themselves repeating after you. A great thing about learning online is that students can do this as much as they need until they get it right.

Writing Instruction

For writing exercises, the big thing to watch out for is plagiarism. Some countries do not view plagiarism and copyright the same way Americans do, so you have to be on the lookout. To check for plagiarism, do this: copy and paste a portion of what your student has written into a search engine. Then see what comes up. If you find the exact same article, then act accordingly.

A way to reduce the risk of plagiarism is to have students write about themselves. Try to keep the topics to ones students will feel comfortable with. Their first kiss might not be the best subject; their first day at school would probably be more appropriate. Have them post their writing in the forum or email it to you.

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